Tag: assistance

Pinterest for Catholic Teachers

Not too long ago I did a summary of some resources found around the web for Catholic educators. One of the resources linked to was Pinterest, but I felt as though the brief summary didn’t get it’s due for how useful Pinterest can be to teachers and faculty in classrooms of all ages.


What is Pinterest? Think of your home corkboard, a place where you pin up recipes found in magazines, pictures, to-do lists, and inspiration. Pinterest is a digital, collaborative version of that board. It is an incredible wealth of creative and inspiring projects, insights, and wisdom. Pinterest consists of visual bookmarks, called “pins”, as links to websites, blogs, and articles, attached with a picture. You can sort “pins” into “boards” that you create and label. You can have boards for different grades, different holidays, different lesson plans, and more. Visual, easy, and intuitive to use, it is an excellent resource that you are sure to pick up quickly.


Technology in the classroom is a constant discussion in all schools, and Pinterest is a great example of ways to utilize it. This blog from Kelly Kraus on the National Catholic Educators Association webpage even talks of creating an account on Pinterest that the entire class has access to, in order for students to share ideas and resources for projects together in one place.


With the success of C3 (Catholic Communication Collaboration – a conference for Catholic teachers, parish staff, and educators about technology and it’s uses in a Catholic education) growing every year in attendance and in offerings, this conversation is becoming ever more relevant.


Pinterest has become an important venue for professional development for thousands of teachers. Teaching tips, lesson plans, craft projects, source material research, and even classroom decoration can be found on Pinterest. There are tips for teaching math to dyslexic or visual learners, to middle school science lessons, to ways to teach math concepts through dance moves.


When professional development training varies drastically based on school, and may be too rigorous on classical teaching while leaving creative ideas behind, or focus too much on inclusivity of the children’s learning styles while not focusing on concrete lesson plans, Pinterest is a great “There when you need it” well to draw from for just about any kind of teaching issue. It is by no means a replacement for lack of teacher education and development, but as an educator, Pinterest might just be the most inspiration available in one place.
Back to Kelly Kraus, who says: “Another thing I love about Pinterest is the material provided when searching for specific lesson ideas. A quick search for a lesson subject, such as “Good Samaritan,” showcases lessons for Catholic classrooms, as well as lessons from other faith traditions. These activities and lesson plans can serve as guides for catechists to create lessons that are specific to their classrooms and their lesson plan objectives.”

Keep Your Kids Catholic: Sharing Your Faith And Making It Stick

Note: This post is from The CatholicKey Online. Please check out this and more work over at their website!

Review by Scott McKellar

Marc Cardaronella, diocesan Director of the Bishop Helmsing Institute, has written a very timely book about the need for parents to share their faith with their children. The sad truth is that the majority of Catholic children will leave the church before the age of 21. As Catholic parents, this is not the outcome we hope for. What can be done?

Cardaronella suggest that there are three things we can do to avoid this outcome. First, secure your own faith. The example of our own faith as parents is essential. We cannot just passively expect the parish education program to do this job for us. If we value our own children’s faith, we will work on our own faith life. Cardaronella shares his own faith journey to illustrate how to grow in faith. The most essential component is to foster our own personal adherence or voluntary commitment to Christ. Only then can this be shared with our children. He notes, “The child must also be led to understand this great gift as a personal invitation to share in the Christian life. . . accepting the invitation leads to conversion” (p. 14). This theme is developed in detail in Part II of the book, “Is your own faith secure?” This section forms a kind of self-guided retreat on the condition of the heart. Cardaronella gives prayers and reflection questions and practical advice on how to deepen your personal faith.

The second component is to educate to foster faith. Very often parish education programs focus exclusively on passing on information about the faith. Clearly learning about the faith is important and it is necessary to gradually give our children a systematic understanding of the faith, but without a second component this type of learning can fall flat. Turning to Blessed John Henry Newman, Cardaronella suggests a different model which focuses on personal influence and witness. This theme is expanded in Part III, “What kind of education fosters faith.” Again giving the reader practical reflections, prayer questions and further resources Cardaronella highlights those aspects of learning that are crucial for developing faith. This section is divided into three topics. The first in understanding the Bible as the story of salvation. Cardaronella gives practical advice on how to approach the Bible and pass on the faith to our children. The second section involves the story of the liturgy in which he helps the reader to understand Mass and the liturgical year more deeply. He concludes this section with helpful guide to mentoring relationships.

The final component is to create a home of faith. Once again it is clear that Parish and school programs only have a tiny influence in our children’s lives. Our home is the primary influence. Cardaronella suggest four ways that parents are vital for passing on the faith to our children. The first is influence. Parents have far more effect on their children than they are aware of. Cardaronella notes, “If you want your children to grown up to be good Catholics, be one yourself! (p. 28). The second is to teach through relationship. Cardaronella notes that although parents might assume they are too “uncool” to teach their children, researchers have shown that even teen children are still listening and open to being taught even if they act uninterested. But in order to do this you need relationship with your children. The third vital parent behavior is to talk about faith. The experience of talking about our faith makes it something that is not vague but specific and challenging. Cardaronella warns “In order to articulate faith, you have to internalize it and understand the reasons why you believe it” (p. 31). We need to be open to honest discussions and not merely appeal to the rules. The final component is religious practices. Adolescent faith is activated through specific spiritual and religious practices. This theme is expanded in Part IV, “How to create an environment of faith?” In this section Cardaronella discusses the topics, ‘Training in godliness,’ ‘Seeking personal relationship with God,’ ‘Praying from the heart,’ and ‘Structuring life to support faith.’

A final important section involves helping your children to make an act of faith. Cardaronella applies the tools of evangelization to the family. What is the message of the Gospel and how do we present it to our children? He presents three different moments of Catholic commitment, the age of reason, early teens, and late teens.

Overall this is a very practical guide for parents that will help them to get the most out of their family faith experience. Each section of the book ends with reflections, prayers and applications that make the book a life changer.

Scott McKellar is associate director of the Bishop Helmsing Institute.


Disability, Education, and Faith

“Each of us, sooner or later, is called to face — at times painfully — frailty and illness, both our own and those of others,” said Pope Francis on June 12th, when he gave a homily celebrating Mass for the Year of Mercy jubilee of the sick and persons with disabilities.


Celebrating love and solidarity over focus on physical perfection and hiding away those who do not fit a standard or idea as a way to make the world a better place, His Holiness also said “The world does not become better because only apparently ‘perfect’ — not to mention fake — people live there, but when human solidarity, mutual acceptance and respect increase.”


Assisted at the altar by several alter servers with Down Syndrome, the Mass took place in St. Peter’s Square, and showcased several other people with disabilities including a reading of Scripture written in Braille, and Pope Francis made clear that while limitations are part of being human, we don’t always understand that. We have this idea that “sick or disabled persons cannot be happy, since they cannot live the lifestyle held up by the culture of pleasure and entertainment.”


“In an age when care for one’s body has become an obsession and a big business, anything imperfect has to be hidden away, since it threatens the happiness and serenity of the privileged few and endangers the dominant model,” the pope said. “In some cases, we are even told that it is better to eliminate them as soon as possible, because they become an unacceptable economic burden in time of crisis.”


He goes on to talk about that those attitudes hindering the real meaning of life, which “has to do with accepting suffering and limitations,” and that those, the sick and weak, cast aside by society, are exactly the ones that Jesus loved most. Love is the only real path to being happy. “How many disabled and suffering persons open their hearts to life again as soon as they realize they are loved! How much love can well up in a heart simply with a smile!”


“Each one of us has a different way of understanding things. One understands one way and another in a different manner, but we can all know God.”


This is something I believe we must focus on in education as well. There are any number of issues facing children in health, access, and ability. But to truly teach a great and faith-based education, one must put accessibility and diversity at the forefront.
“Differences are a richness because I have something and you have something else and by putting the two together we have something more beautiful, something greater,” the pope said. Diversity is not something to fear, but is “the path to improvement, to be more beautiful and richer.”

Using Tuition Aid to Increase Catholic School Enrollment

Most Archdiocese in America have tuition assistance, and a quick Google search of your state or city can yield quick results as to the process of applying, amount of assistance in grants and/or scholarships, and the schools that the tuition assistance applies to, if there are any restrictions.

Some archdiocese do something unique for the specifics needs of the community they are a part of, for example, the New York Archdiocese has an Inner-City Scholarship Fund, which exists to aid families with financial needs in securing the kind of quality education rooted in values that they are seeking for their children.

From the Inner-City Scholarship fund website: “Nearly 70% of the students enrolled in designated elementary and secondary inner-city Catholic schools in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island come from homes living at or below the federal poverty line. The average scholarship recipient’s family income is approximately $24,000 per year. Over 50% of inner-city Catholic school students come from single-parent households.”

With this fund, Catholic schools partner with the donors of the program to help these families and their children reach a better education, and -by extension- a more promising future. In an area where a third of students in inner city schools do not graduate at all, and other obstacles face inner city children daily, an overwhelmingly large number of Catholic seniors graduate. A whopping 98%. And, further, 96% of those graduates go on to pursue some form of higher education at universities countrywide, which is an awe-inspiring number.

In order to combat the declining trend in Catholic school enrollment as shown by the National Catholic Educational Association’s report, some schools in various states are looking towards scholarships as opportunities to actually reverse that trend and grow enrollment. Florida and Nebraska have both seen growth with initiatives. There are needs based and merit based scholarships, grants for minorities, and more states and Archdiocese are looking to branch out and think outside of the box.

The Archdiocese of Omaha has a particularly interesting program called “Welcome Tuition Grants.” These grants are offered only to families who transfer from secular private, public, and home schools into the Catholic schools within the Archdiocese. “We think Catholic education has plenty of great things to offer families,” said Patrick Slattery, superintendent of the Archdiocese of Omaha. “But we do have capacity to educate more.” Slattery said he borrowed the idea from Allentown, Pennsylvania, where Catholic school enrollment had steadily declined for 15 years, indicative of a nationwide trend. The Allentown diocese reversed the decline in 2012, however, by offering tuition discounts, not based on merit, but on new students enrolling in their schools, leading to 426 new enrollments. Omaha began piloting this program for the first year in the 2015-2016 school year, so it is fairly new, but within just a small three week window after it was announced, they saw 43 new students transferred to a Catholic school. “We are offering tuition grants to invite families to experience the excellent education opportunities and the Catholic school environment that is welcoming, demanding and Christ-centered,” said Slattery.

This kind of outside-of-the-box thinking should continue. Scholarships and grants to families with fiscal needs, exceptional children, minorities, and transfers are all great ways to both bring your schools in line with wishes of Pope Francis who has spoken many times about the need to make a Catholic education more available to all children, and to also help to keep the Catholic schools in our communities alive, healthy, and full.

What do you think of these initiatives? Do you have ideas or your own? Tweet at @SVirgadamo!